Toronto Star

Jee­wan Chan­icka, 40, school prin­ci­pal

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Chan­icka was born in Cal­gary and did his ECE in Trinidad and Tobago, where his par­ents are from. The Pick­er­ing res­i­dent and fa­ther of three, 19, 14 and 5, be­came the prin­ci­pal of a public el­e­men­tary school in Markham two years ago.

How would you de­scribe your­self?

I be­came a Mus­lim at the age of 11. Half of my fam­ily is Hindu and the other half is Chris­tian.

What is some­thing peo­ple find sur­pris­ing about you?

A lot of peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised by the many var­ied ex­pe­ri­ences that I’ve had and the things I’ve done in my life, rang­ing from experienci­ng the joy of is­land life in Trinidad, snorkellin­g with sharks in the In­dian Ocean, climb­ing Mount Mer­api. I ran a marathon in the Swiss Alps be­cause I don’t like run­ning.

Have you ever faced dis­crim­i­na­tion?

I’ve been taken off a plane for no rea­son and had se­cu­rity of­fi­cers laugh at me about it, and I had no re­course. Most re­cently near where we live, there was hate graf­fiti against Mus­lims and Is­lam. The front win­dow of a lo­cal mosque was shot.

What do you think non-Mus­lim Toron­to­ni­ans most need to know about Mus­lims?

Don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing you see on prime-time TV. Count how many shows and movies over the past few years there have been in which Mus­lims are the ter­ror­ists com­ing to get you. I worry mostly for kids and marginal­ized peo­ple from within our com­mu­nity.

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